Question: Dear Luise: I recently read the question Betty W. wrote to you about her interfering mother-in-law who objected to her parenting skills. My mother-in-law is a schoolteacher, too. We live about 3,000 miles apart, so she comes in the summer and stays with our kids. It’s a great plan because she gets to have time with them and they really like her. We also save on a sitter for three months.
The problem is that she has decided what we will all do regarding an issue we disagree on. It’s over the dog getting to lick the scraps off our plates after we finish a meal…a long-standing custom. He doesn’t beg but waits patiently until we’re done and then loves his treat. My mother-in-law just decreed, “not while I’m here and that’s that!” It’s our house, our dog and our custom. We have a dishwasher that uses very hot water and everything comes out sparking clean. I just hate the power she wields over us. What’s your take? Sandy
Answer: Dear Sandy: Well, first of all I think the lady lacks tact. It is your house and she needs to have more respect and better manners. I wonder if she did that in front of your kids? You need to set some summer ground rules, and the first is that she complains to you only in private. Let her know that she is welcome to give you her opinion in a respectful way, and that you will do your best to work things out with her whenever possible. The second ground rule is that you are adults and will not accept “orders” from her. Tell her that they are not welcome and will not be “obeyed” and, further, that she must accept that fact when deciding whether to come for future summers. She has no power over you unless you give it to her.
(Please note that if she tried to talk with you nicely about this first and you refused to listen, then you have been disrespectful, as well.)
That said…she probably has your best interest at heart. She probably knows about the various kinds of worms that live in the intestinal tracks of pets, as well as knowing how pets usually clean themselves. Give her a break! That’s the tongue that licks the plates. Am I correct in remembering that the hot water in dishwashers is not boiling and does not sterilize? I think that’s true.
If you are willing to consider her point of view, hit the web and read up on parasites…it will give you nightmares!
How about this; while your mother-in-law is with you, why not transfer all of the scraps from the dinner plates to the dog’s dish? And while you’re at it, why not do it year round? One last thought; why not thank her? Blessings, Luise